Badger population at risk as Government orders cull of more than 50,000, campaigners say

The Government has reportedly decided to expand the cull that has taken place over the past three years

Ian Johnston
Monday 29 February 2016 02:49
Comments
The Government is reportedly planning to massively expand the badger cull
The Government is reportedly planning to massively expand the badger cull

More than 50,000 badgers are to be culled in a dramatic expansion of Government’s efforts to protect cattle against tuberculosis, according to a report.

Over the past three years, just under 4,000 badgers have been killed in Somerset, Gloucestershire and Dorset at a cost of more than £5m.

But The Times reported that the Government had now decided to expand the cull by killing more than 12 times that number at sites across the country, starting this autumn.

Animal rights activists have protested that culling is ineffective in controlling TB and complained that badgers are being killed indiscriminately, whether they have the disease or not.

And Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, warned that a significant proportion of England’s badger population was at risk.

“Hundreds of thousands of badgers could be killed over the next five years and that would worry us greatly because we believe the population as a whole is probably less than half a million,” he said.

“There is no evidence that the badger culls since 2013 have reduced the level of bovine TB in cattle.

“We would like to see the money wasted on badger culling spent on better TB testing systems for cattle and better fences and gates to reduce the risk of badgers getting into farmyards.”

Liz Truss, the Environment Secretary, last week said the cull had to be expanded.

“I want to see culling expanded across a wider number of areas this year. The chief veterinary officer’s advice is that this is the only way to secure the full benefits of our comprehensive strategy,” she told the National Farmers’ Union conference.

A trial of culling between 1998 and 2007 found that killing badgers could actually increase the spread of TB because infected badgers run off and spread the disease to other animals.

When asked if the culls since 2013 had reduced rates of TB in cattle, a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokeswoman told the Times that the Government was “waiting to see the impact”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in